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Home > Food Preservation Articles, Reviews, & Buyers Guides > Canning > Preparing Equipment

Preparing Equipment  Item Number: preparing-equipment

Food used for canning must be canned within 12 hours of harvesting.  Most foods begin losing their vitamins immediately.  Choose food that is free of bruises, discoloration, and defects.  The quality of your canned product will only be as good as the food you have chosen.  Wash the food you have harvested.  Prepare it as needed by peeling, pitting, or slicing.  Scald to remove skins from fruits and vegetables when necessary.

Two methods are used when packing the jars for the canning process:

  • Hot packing is when food is heated thoroughly before it is packed into jars.  It should be packed loosely, since hot packed food does not shrink.  This method naturally removes air.  When hot packed jars are put into the canner, water should be boiling to avoid jar breakage.

  • Cold Packing is when raw food is placed into the jars.  It should be packed tightly since the food shrinks using this method.  When cold packed jars are placed into the canner, water should be hot.  Bring to a boil AFTER the jars are placed to avoid glass breakage.

The space between the food and the lid is called headspace.  Proper headspace is required for the expansion of food and for forming vacuums in cooled jars.  For jams and jellies, 1/4/ in. is required.  For fruits and tomatoes, leave 1/2 in.  For low-acid foods, 1-1 1/4 in. is needed.

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